Written by Michael Benson Thursday, 04 January 2018 00:00
Located in Walpole Massachusetts sits the Adams Farm, home to 454 Velo's year-end Cyclocross race. This was our first visit to the venue. Based on the conditions being snowy, hard as rock frozen ground, and icy, I was happy to see that a farm course was on order. To me, a farm course is more wide-open space with longer flowy hills and cambers. With these conditions, we didn't need scary descents on big hills. Speed could be controlled on today's course based on each rider’s bike handling ability (especially cornering) and proper tire section and pressure.
As you might guess, the course today had a lot of turns on flat ground. But, there were also some tighter turns just before long hills that you did not want to put a foot down. The team who runs KMC were nice enough to bring a flyover to the event. This made for a great fan cheering zone. The course also featured some stairs that I could not ride and a set of barriers that some did bunny hop.
My 12-year-old son Matt was racing the U19 and I was with the 40+ Masters group. Matt's group started 1 minute behind the 4/5 woman's race with . Matt was able to make the first group and stick with them for the first 10 minutes but faded. He spent the rest of the race chasing down riders from the woman's race and finished a solid 6th. He passed every woman except 2. Meanwhile I'm sitting in the car warming up and look across the field to see my group is already lining up. This would mean I would be starting on the second row.
During the first lap of my race, a group of 5-6 riders pace-lined around the course. I was sitting 5th. After the first lap, the front 2 riders built a 15 second gap on 4 of us. Over the next 5 minutes I put myself in 4th position with a nice pass. After another 15 minutes it was just me and the other racer fighting for the last podium spot. With one lap to go we charged over the flyover hit the next second of chicanes through the field. This is when I made my first real mistake. Trying to take a turn tight to pass, I hit a wooden course stake with my bars. I went down and got my pedal stuck in the snow fence. This put about 30 seconds between me and 3rd and renewed life from racers in the 5th and 6th spots. In the back half of the course, I was able to close the gap by 15 seconds but that left me gassed. I also had the 5th place racer on my heels. At the stairs, i was slower than him and he passed me. We both raced close to the eventual 3rd place finisher. I never could pass him again and finished 5th.
Looking back, I think I could have rode my baby Linus tubulars around 24/23 front and rear. 27/26 was too firm. As with every race, I usually kick myself too for not pushing harder when I felt like I could have passed a rider. Its all too easy to sit at threshold and below and follow the person in front of you. Lesson learned for next year.
Big thanks to Bikeman.com for having 100% of the things I needed this season in stock. The team there always delivers great customer service.
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